Speaking of Dirk

Rajon Rondo knew he couldn't outjump Dirk Nowitzki . So the 6-foot-1 Boston Celtics guard had to outthink him. Rondo, who had a season-high 12 rebounds, swiped the ball from Nowitzki and put in a reverse layup with 42 seconds left to give the Celtics the lead, and host Boston held on to beat the Dallas Mavericks 96-90 on Thursday night.

''He didn't block me out, so I went up under and got the ball,'' Rondo said. ''I just wanted to get it up quickly before the defense recognized that I had the ball.'' With Kevin Garnett sidelined for the third consecutive game, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen scored 26 points apiece to help the Celtics remain unbeaten against the Western Conference. And they did it against one of the West's best teams while overcoming 31 points and 11 rebounds from Nowitzki.

Nowitzki made two free throws with 58 seconds left to tie it at 90. The Celtics got the ball to Pierce, but his shot went around the rim and out.Along came Rondo to grab the ball away from Nowitzki and put in the game-winner.''I had the rebound in my hand,'' Nowitzki said, ''and then Rondo came out of nowhere and snuck it up to the basket before I could react.''

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